Castacan (Habanero Pork Belly Taco)


Habanero Pork Belly Tacos

Habanero Pork Belly Tacos

Tacos de Castacán al Habanero

Recipe Yield

4 to 6 servings

Cooking time

2 hours 45 minutes

Rate this recipe

4.25 from 4 votes


  • 4 cups water plus 1 cup for roasting
  • 1/2 cup kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 habanero
  • 2 pounds pork belly boneless
  • 8 to 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups grated melty cheese such as Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, Muenster or Mozzarella
  • Pickled Onion with Fire Roasted Chiles and Garlic optional, to garnish
  • Ripe avocado slices optional, to garnish
  • Salsa of your choice optional, to garnish

To Prepare

  • To make the brine, in a small saucepan, combine 4 cups of water with the salt, sugar, oregano, black pepper, allspice, bay leaf, and whole habanero. Set over medium-high heat. Once it comes to a boil, stir and turn off heat. Set aside until cooled.
  • Using a sharp knife, score the top of the pork belly in a diagonal pattern, without cutting into the meat. Place the pork belly in a medium baking dish, pour in the brine along with the habanero, making a slit in the habanero. Cover and refrigerate anywhere from 12 to 48 hours.
  • When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 300°F with the rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Take the pork belly out of the refrigerator, remove it from the brine and place it in a clean or rinsed baking dish. Pour a clean cup of water over it and add the whole habanero from the brine.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 2 1/2 hours, or until the pork belly is fork tender. Remove the aluminum foil, increase heat to 450°F, and roast for about 15 minutes or until the top has crisped and browned and the inner fat has mostly melted. Remove from the oven. Once cool enough to handle, cut into 1” slices and chop into bite size pieces.
  • Heat a comal, griddle, or skillet over medium heat. One by one heat the tortillas on both sides, add a couple of generous tablespoons of cheese and a couple generous tablespoons of pork belly. Once the cheese is melted, fold and let the tacos crisp on both sides. Serve with pickled onion with fire roasted chiles and garlic, ripe avocado slices, and/or your favorite salsa.

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18comments inHabanero Pork Belly Tacos

  1. Kari

    May 30

    My first time even seeing pork belly much less cooking it… WOW were these good Pati!! I was very concerned after the first cooking and it looked so …. Well… unappealing. Just keep following the directions, it browned/crisped up beautifully! We had unexpected guests that night and everyone LOVED them!!! Very easy recipe just need to plan ahead. Thank you Pati for another terrifically tasty meal!!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 01

      Yay!!! So happy to hear Kari!

  2. Sara

    May 24

    Would this recipe work with pre-sliced pork belly?


    1. Pati Jinich

      May 27

      I don’t see why not Sara 😉

  3. David

    Apr 25

    Hi Patti,
    Just watched the show and I am eager to make these tacos. They look delicious! I assume that since the habanero just flavors the brine and the roasting liquid, the taste is subtle and not overly spicy.

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 20

      Not overly spicy at all David, you are going to love these tacos!

  4. sylvia

    Mar 31

    Todo se ve delicioso! Tengo que cocinar mas de sus recetas!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 10

      Animate Sylvia, te van a gustar 😉

  5. Gina M.

    Feb 08

    Hi Pati! This simple recipe is delicious and I’ve made it twice already. Huge crowd pleaser!!!

    My only questions is, I can never get the skin to become super crispy. My second round, I cut more slits in the skin, and some parts got crispy, but it just never fully puffed crispy. If I left it in longer, it looked like it may start to burn.

    Any guidance would be appreciated. Your recipes are amazing and my family refers to you by name… “is this Pati?” Haha <3

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 08

      Hi Gina, I recommend that you cook the pork belly for an additional 5 to 10 minutes in the oven, maybe lower your rack to the middle so it won’t burn but it will definitely get crispier 🙂

  6. Mark

    Jan 24

    Hi Patti,
    The pork belly is fantastic. There’s only two of us so we have quite a bit left over. Do you have any suggestions for using the leftover pork belly and can you tell me the best way to reheat it?
    Thank you!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 27

      I have the perfect recipe for you Mark, this rice will be happy to use your pork belly left overs, just start from the step after cooking it for this recipe 😉 or maybe these yummy Brussel sprouts?

  7. Larry Szabo

    Oct 22

    When you prepared the brine you added a spice or leaf I did not hear the name. In your recipe there was no mention of the Yucatán ingredient. Was it optional?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 02

      Hey Larry, here are the ingredients that go in the brine: 4 cups of water with salt, sugar, oregano, black pepper, allspice, bay leaf, and whole habanero. The ingredient I added from the Yucatan was the oregano 😉

  8. Kathy Roster

    Oct 22

    Patti, do you leave the skin on the pork belly? I am excited to make this. I have a hard time with hot spicy so i will go easy. Please let me know thank you Kathy

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 02

      Yes! The skin is what becomes all crunchy and delicious in the tacos, enjoy!

  9. Richard

    Oct 21

    Totally decadent… Never thought pork belly would taste that good. Of course the brine did its work but the result is amazing. Thanks again Pati for this great way to discover Yucatan.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 02

      My pleasure Richard, so glad you liked this recipe!

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